What Does The Bible Say About Suing People?

Lawsuits can get UGLY. Jesus gave us a specific plan for dealing with interpersonal conflict. Are you following it? And are there situations where the legal system should step in? 

Jesus said this in Matthew 18:15-17 about conflict between believers:

"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.  But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."

Steps we should follow when someone hurts us or owes us something: Talk directly to the person about the issue, appealing to forgiveness and reconciliation. If that doesn’t resolve things, without gossiping about the issue, take someone along to mediate and to be a witness as you try again. If you’re still in conflict, then ask the church leadership to judge and help heal the wounds. At this point we should note that Jesus pursued heathens and tax collectors with love and kindness.

Writing to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:5-8, Paul appealed to believers to take the most loving approach possible.

 "I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?  But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!

Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?  No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!"

It’s apparent (particularly in 1 Corinthians 6:4) that the Bible would never tell us to take a spiritual issue before a secular judge. It’s also much better for our souls to take a loss and forgive than to exact vengeance against a believer through the courts. 

Are there situations where you should plan on defending yourself through or in the legal system? Of course. Paul used legal arguments before the government to demand his rights as a Roman citizen in the book of Acts. If it’s possible to show mercy and kindness to an non-Christian in Jesus name, we should do so. However, in the case of a crime and violated laws, it may be necessary to let secular justice be fulfilled while we offer forgiveness on our part.